J. Holiday: The Return of the R&B Thug
What defines an R&B thug? Is the answer in his
vernacular or his mannerisms with people? Is it his way with women or his
dress code? Despite our eagerness to classify todays modern singer as a thug
when we see their tattoos and stocking caps, these singers arent as
predictable as what you may assume.
Frustrated with life, dealing with the death of a loved one
and the rollercoaster ride of love are things that D.C.'s J. Holiday expressed in
his Grammy nominated debut album Back Of My Lac. It just so happens that he expressed his experiences with lyrics in
regards to sipping yack in the back of his Cadillac with the diamond in the
back, peppered with a few references to the herb and expletives to paint us a
picture of his life.
The crooners second project,
properly named Round 2, is a sequel to
what his fans enjoyed in Back Of My Lac. By keeping the team he used for his debut, Holiday fans should expect pleasurable content as
well as a few surprises that wouldnt be expected.
AllHipHop.com Alternatives: You have the
great tattoos, the braids, stocking cap, the hat and a great persona. Do you
consider yourself an R&B thug?
J. Holiday: No, not
at all. I honestly wear the stocking cap because Ive been growing my hair
since I was 15 and Im kind of tired of it, but at this point its a part of my
image, so I do with it what I do with it. Thats just me. On the album Im
dressing up a little more. Its not because Im following the trends but you
have to grow somewhere. At that point in my life thats where I was at like
the jeans and the tennis shoes.
AHHA: What are your
thoughts on artists who change their image to go the route of the R&B
J. Holiday: Like I
said: personal responsibility. If you portray that image and then certain thug
things happen to youpeople always think its cool when something happens
to them and they get real humble about it. You live by the sword and die by
the sword. You reap what you sow. I try to make sure I do right by everyone
around me including the people that work for me and including the people that
dont work for me like my family and my fans.
AHHA: Some fans
like that rough appeal, especially from an R&B singer. Do you feel
pressure trying to keep up with what appeals to your fans?
J. Holiday: When
you have artists that come out and some artists come out younger than others,
some come out when they are already grown, but I think your fans grow with you.
I think if anything does change about me, they will accept it. Im not an
attention freak and I think those people who do those changes are trying to
gain that attention. Thats not even the kind of person that I am. Im going
to just grow and where that is, thats where its going to be.
AHHA: So you have
no thoughts on the artists that hump the floor, have a great bedroom body and
rip off their shirts.
J. Holiday: Thats
on them and thats what they do. Some people need that for their show. When I
take off my shirt, I feel comfortable and confident in myself. I feel like Im
sexy in my own right. [laughs]
AHHA: In regards to
your vocals and not the style, have you ever been told you sound similar to
J. Holiday: Definitely.
Whats crazy is before we went on tour I found out that his birthday is the
day after mine, so were very similar in a lot of ways.
AHHA: What was that
like being on tour with Trey? Was he what you expected?
J. Holiday: Actually I try not to prejudge people, but sometimes
you see stuff on T.V. and thats not how that person really is. He was completely
different from what I thought. He was cool, he was chill. For anyone that
might have that bad impression on him, hes a cool dude. I liked the fact that
we both went on stage and put in 100% every night. My biggest thing is when I
get on stage and the fans came to see a show and they came to hear you sing the
songs that they love. They dont want to hear you up there playing around and
neither one of us did. We went all the way in every night.
AHHA: Back Of My
Lac has you up for a Grammy nod. Jazmine Sullivan came out this year
and shes up for five nominations. Thats amazing for brand new artists. It's
artists like you and Jazmine Sullivan who are putting pressure on the established
acts that got comfortable. How do you feel about the state of R&B thats
been going on for these past years?
J. Holiday: Im
just happy that R&B is getting back to R&B. Youll always have those
consistent artists like Mary J. and Ne-Yo, but in other places its gotten a
little shaky. Ive seen Jazmine Sullivan live and shes dope. Its good to see
the young people coming in and showing R&B the right type of love and not
making a mockery of it.
AHHA: What about
all of these artists coming out with dance songs and Super-Manning women on
J. Holiday: [laughs]
I try not to even focus on it.
AHHA: But that is
the next generation. Rap, R&B, Urban Popwhatever it is, thats the
next wave thats coming out. What youre putting out now is what these kids
are using to help form their music.
J. Holiday: I do
try to do my part because if I focus on music that may not be going so well for
music, then thats when my music will start to fall off. I just try to make
sure that I focus on what Im doing and I keep people happy with the sounds
they love to hear. We got a lot of kids coming up now and we have a lot of
kids watching us. Thats what Im focused on. You have to set a good example.
For the younger generation thats coming out, they have to understand that one
day theyre going to have kids and they dont want their legacy to be that and
caught up with personal relationships and children can affect your career. How
do you stay grounded?
J. Holiday: I used
to work a 9-to-5 job before this, so I know how to work hard. We have certain
responsibilities and you got to do what you got to do. At the end of the day I
love singing, but this is my income. This is my job. This is what Im
supposed to do. Im supposed to get on stage and make sure that the fans are
satisfied. You cant get caught up in the hype.
AHHA: Do you feel
at some point before you dropped Back Of My Lac that artists like
Usher fell off?
J. Holiday: Sometimes
as artist we have people who often forget that were human. Its almost like
they believe the fantasy that they see on T.V. or forget that we have a real
life outside of what you see on T.V. Sometimes people just have situations in
their personal life and it can take your focus away. I cant really speak on
what happened, but you got to be able to focus. Sometimes its hard and it
depends on who you have around you. Thats why I make sure my team around me
keeps me happy and not bring me down.
AHHA: Be With Me
was out for a while. Why do you think it wasnt as big of a song as Bed or
J. Holiday: At the
time that wasnt about what people liked. A lot of people liked that song too.
I think at the time the situation I was in there were a lot of things going on
internally within the label with people getting shifted around, so people
couldnt focus on getting the music out there. Thats really all that was. I
think everything happened the way it was supposed to. Nothing is a mistake.
AHHA: Lets talk
about your new album Round 2. Your new single Its Yours is out
now. Where were you trying to go when you did this song?
J. Holiday: People
want to be loved these days. I think the whole player phase is getting played
out. Its just showing people you can be in love, have fun and live a cool
life. Everyone thinks the player life is cool and I love living a rock star
life but that doesnt mean I cant find someone to love as well.
AHHA: Do you feel
that people want love because they are getting older?
J. Holiday: You
have to. As a youngster you want to run around, but as you get
olderespecially now that I have a daughterI cant just have any
type of female around her. If I do it would have to be somebody serious.
AHHA: You never
really did a club record. Does Round 2 have club records on it?
J. Holiday: Theres
definitely some tempo on there. Theres really no such thing as a club record.
Depending on the tempo, my songs arent necessarily Jump around! Jump
around! but I do have records on this album that have more tempo that could be
played in the club, but that arent necessarily club records.
AHHA: With Round
2 are you going to do collaborations?
J. Holiday: Right
now the only collaboration that I have is a song that I did with Rick Ross
called Wrong Lover. I got a song on the album called Homeless. Its not
finished yet but were trying to get Mos Def on the joint right now.
AHHA: Did you make
an R&B version of Young Jeezys Recession?
J. Holiday: Something
like that. Its really more focused on homeless people, but its just showing
awareness for the people who have nowhere to sleep.
AHHA: Your last
album you did some cursing in there, are you doing more cursing in Round 2?
J. Holiday: No, I
toned it down a little bit.
AHHA: Your mothers
a preacher so I was wondering about that.
J. Holiday: Me and
her even had a talk about that. She was just like there are some things that
you just need to get off your chest. Its just not about cursing like a sailor
all day, thats how I felt in those songs. I knew that she would understand
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